Rousseau and the Fall of Social Man

Philosophy 60 (231):105-121 (1985)
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Abstract

As ideas and feelings succeeded one another, and heart and head were brought into play, men continued to lay aside their natural wildness; their private connections became ever more intimate as their limits extended. They accustomed themselves to assemble before their huts round a large tree; singing and dancing, the true offspring of love and leisure, became the amusement, or rather the occupation, of men and women thus assembled together with nothing else to do. Each one began to consider the rest, and to wish to be considered in turn; and thus a value came to be attached to public esteem. Whoever sang or danced best, whoever was the handsomest, the strongest, the most dexterous, or the most eloquent, came to be of most consideration; and this was the first step towards inequality, and at the same time towards vice. From these first distinctions arose on the one side vanity and contempt and on the other shame and envy; and the fermentation caused by these heavens ended by producing combinations fatal to innocence and happiness

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